The Army Birthday Ball is a tradition in military communities across the country.
But this year, it's a casualty of tight fiscal times.
Budget cuts sidelined the big annual event in Washington, D.C., this year. And in the Quad-Cities, budget woes also are forcing the Army to relinquish its traditional role as host of the local ball. But now, some private groups are stepping into the breach to make sure the show goes on, here and in other parts of the country.
Next month, the Rock Island Arsenal Chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army and the Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce are sponsoring the first Quad-Cities Military Salute Gala.
The event to honor the military's 238th birthday, and the men and women who serve, will be at the Quad-Cities Waterfront Convention Center, Bettendorf.
This birthday bash will be a bit different from ones in the past.
Restrictions on the use of federal funds, and existing Defense Department regulations governing the participation of military personnel and employees in essentially private events, are prompting some extra care in the preparations.
"We'll keep most of the flavor of the birthday ball," said Kerry Skinner, president of the Arsenal AUSA chapter.
The streamer ceremony that signifies the campaigns the Army has been involved in won't be held. Concerns that it might come at a cost to the Army, as well as the length of the ritual, prompted organizers to leave it out.
"We didn't even ask," Skinner said.
But they are asking about retaining other parts of the birthday ball, such as an invocation by an Army chaplain, fallen soldiers honors, a color guard and a cake-cutting ceremony.
Skinner said they're hopeful and expect an answer later this week.
The important thing, he said, is to honor the military and "the men and women and their families who continue to raise their hands and serve."
The U.S. Army Sustainment Command, which is headquartered on Arsenal Island and has traditionally been involved with organizing the local birthday ball, said in a statement this week that "as the Army's logistical command and control hub, we appreciate the support we receive from our community and continued recognition for the important work we perform for our nation."
As for the organizers' request to perform certain functions at the event, that is "being reviewed," the statement said.
The command did say that Brig. Gen. John Wharton, ASC's commander, plans to attend the event.
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The Quad-City effort is one of a number of private celebrations being planned to mark the Army's birthday, its 238th. The actual birthday is June 14.
One of those events will be in the Kansas City area, which is near Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
Mark H. Wiggins, president of the Greater Kansas City Chapter of the AUSA, said some extra diligence is being exercised to make sure no Army money is spent but the traditional celebration will retain its flavor there, too.
It's a mostly private event, anyway.
"We throw the party and invite the Army to come," he said.
The Washington Post reported last month that although the big birthday bash in the nation's capital wouldn't be held, there would be occasions to the mark the Army's birthday, including a cake-cutting ceremony at the Pentagon and a wreath-laying at Arlington National Cemetery. The Post reported that canceling the ball there would save $400,000.
The cost of the Quad-City gala is about $20,000, Skinner said. In the past, a combination of Army and private funds have paid the cost of the ball here.
This time, corporate donations are being solicited, and with ticket sales, that should defray the cost, Skinner said.